# Interesting article on living "paycheck to paycheck"

#### Ruth Harris

##### Token Christian,retired bad-ass level tech support

I agree with Peter Coy, the author of this opinion piece. We have expanded the meaning of living "paycheck to paycheck" to levels that are beyond reasonable.

I have lived paycheck to paycheck. When I say that, I mean that if my paycheck was one day late I couldn't pay my bills, buy gas to get to work, or get groceries. If something broke midweek, I couldn't get it fixed or replace it. I had no credit cards, savings, retirement account, or any extra cash at all. There were times that I mailed a check to pay a bill and prayed that it would not clear the bank before I could get my paycheck deposited. I lived on a very stringent budget and there were no extras in it; no cable tv (and sometimes not even regular tv when it broke!), no fun activities which cost anything, no driving somewhere "just because", no restaurant meals. The library was our favorite resource for entertainment as we were voracious readers and they also offered some children's programs which my son loved.

Living paycheck to paycheck should never mean that you have funds in an account that you can access if necessary. It means that you have no unused money if something unexpected happens. If you can access money set aside previously when you have an emergency, you are not living paycheck to paycheck. People who think that they are living that way would be horrified if they actually had to live "paycheck to paycheck".

Ruth

#### spikepipsqueak

##### My Brane Hertz
I notice also that some of the outgoings for those higher income people living "paycheck to paycheck" are amounts set aside for future use.

Those people who can save after serving current need can't claim to be poverty stricken. It mocks those who are actually in financial trouble.

#### Jarhyn

##### Wizard
I've been in a situation where I have been paycheck to paycheck, juggling bills. It's interesting that when you have one or two small "vices" that cost a bit of money, that can stretch a little bit across a range of income defined by the "vice" in question, and whether or not you have direct control over allowing the money to flow to the "vice" at all.

I think we need to recognize not just that some people have a lack of income akin to being starved, but some also have a diarrhea of income caused by a parasitic or misdirected thought process, an illness that they literally cannot afford to allow to have control over them in that context.

I would propose that this implies an obligation to undergo, as a matter of public education, activities which exercise and strengthen the power of people to undertake short to mid-term abnegation: the ability to say no to oneself.

#### southernhybrid

##### Contributor
I lived paycheck to paycheck during my 20s, but imo, it's easy being poor when you're young. You have your life head of you and you don't need the same kind of comforts that you do in old age. We have enough savings in old age to live a middle class lifestyle. But, I've known many older adults who's only income was SS. Living paycheck to paycheck in those circumstances isn't easy.

My sister has always lived paycheck to paycheck, primarily due to living a life style that was beyond her means. Then again, it's difficult to afford to live well in New Jersey, unless one is wealthy. Plus it's easy to make financial mistakes. Some people simply lack discipline, when it comes to managing money.

Btw, I read that article several days ago. It does make some good points.

#### Jarhyn

##### Wizard
I lived paycheck to paycheck during my 20s, but imo, it's easy being poor when you're young. You have your life head of you and you don't need the same kind of comforts that you do in old age. We have enough savings in old age to live a middle class lifestyle. But, I've known many older adults who's only income was SS. Living paycheck to paycheck in those circumstances isn't easy.

My sister has always lived paycheck to paycheck, primarily due to living a life style that was beyond her means. Then again, it's difficult to afford to live well in New Jersey, unless one is wealthy. Plus it's easy to make financial mistakes. Some people simply lack discipline, when it comes to managing money.

Btw, I read that article several days ago. It does make some good points.
Yeah, that was me before the army. For a while after it too, TBH, but then things went alright after getting started on a mortgage.

I think a neighbor I walked past one day on my way home while talking to his kid said it right: get a house payment before you consider getting a car payment.

#### Toni

##### Contributor
The first year I was on my own, I didn't make it paycheck to paycheck. I simply didn't eat some days and some days I walked...a lot of miles to work because I couldn't afford bus fare and accepted a ride home from my creepy boss who talked about his sex life in unpleasant detail. Once, I caught mono and missed work and had to take out a small, interest free loan from the university where I had registered for ONE class out of the meager money I had scraped together over the previous 5 months. Without that loan, I would have been unable to pay my rent. I'm not sure what would have happened so I made sure it didn't happen. I lived leaner until I paid back that loan. And...my then boyfriend/now husband let me stay at his place which was closer to my work, which really cut down on the time it took me to get there.

Years later, for a period of time, after we moved, taking a significant pay cut and having more expenses because everything was just so much more expensive, I used to go to the grocery store late Thursday afternoons, knowing that the check I was going to write wouldn't be deposited until the next day, when there was a paycheck from my husband's job on auto-deposit. Not very often but sometimes, if there was an unexpected bill.

##### Loony Running The Asylum
Staff member
Some people just fail to realize how many people in the good ol' US of A live like this.

#### prideandfall

##### Veteran Member
Some people just fail to realize how many people in the good ol' US of A live like this.
IMO what is equally bad, if not in some ways worse, are people who used to live like this and managed to get out of it, and now think that getting out of it is "easy" and look down on those who are still in it.
I feel like the only attention those kinds of people get is one of them writes an article for The Atlantic or something that is so ridiculous it makes podcasts take notice, but the whole "well *I* managed to get out of debt through a series of fortunate accidents and help from other people so there's no excuse for you to not have a rich relative who gives you enough money to stabilize" mentality seems to be really prevalent.

#### Ruth Harris

##### Token Christian,retired bad-ass level tech support
IMO what is equally bad, if not in some ways worse, are people who used to live like this and managed to get out of it, and now think that getting out of it is "easy" and look down on those who are still in it.
Yes, precisely. There was nothing easy for me getting out of those circumstances and I knew several people who had the attitude you mention. I never disparage anyone who is doing their best to make their life better because I know how hard it can be. As far as I am concerned, they are some of the best people you can know.

Ruth

#### SIB

##### Member
Some people just fail to realize how many people in the good ol' US of A live like this.
IMO what is equally bad, if not in some ways worse, are people who used to live like this and managed to get out of it, and now think that getting out of it is "easy" and look down on those who are still in it.
I feel like the only attention those kinds of people get is one of them writes an article for The Atlantic or something that is so ridiculous it makes podcasts take notice, but the whole "well *I* managed to get out of debt through a series of fortunate accidents and help from other people so there's no excuse for you to not have a rich relative who gives you enough money to stabilize" mentality seems to be really prevalent.
That can be true. But equally as bad is when people refuse to take responsibility or lay responsibility on the person when it does apply.

#### Playball40

##### Veteran Member
Some people just fail to realize how many people in the good ol' US of A live like this.
IMO what is equally bad, if not in some ways worse, are people who used to live like this and managed to get out of it, and now think that getting out of it is "easy" and look down on those who are still in it.
I feel like the only attention those kinds of people get is one of them writes an article for The Atlantic or something that is so ridiculous it makes podcasts take notice, but the whole "well *I* managed to get out of debt through a series of fortunate accidents and help from other people so there's no excuse for you to not have a rich relative who gives you enough money to stabilize" mentality seems to be really prevalent.
I used to live pc to pc. 20 year old college student, working pt at a grocery store. Got pregnant, single parent, turned down for govt assistance.
I got "out of it" because I had a father and a mother that was NEVER going to allow me to go without food or shelter or transportation or diapers........... They didn't 'pay my way' but it was MUCH easier getting my shit together KNOWING I had a safety net! I look back (this was over 30 years ago) and I KNOW HOW LUCKY I WAS. And I've always tried to give back to those who were not as lucky.

#### Swammerdami

In Bonfire of the Vanities, perhaps the best novel by Tom Wolfe — America's 5th-greatest novelist ever — Sherman McCoy finds $1,000,000 per year to be barely enough: One breath of scandal, and not only would the Giscard scheme collapse but his very career would be finished! And what would he do then? I'm already going broke on a million dollars a year! The appalling figures came popping up into his brain. Last year his income had been$980,000. But he had to pay out $21,000 a month for the$1.8 million loan he had taken out to buy the apartment. What was $21,000 a month to someone making a million a year? That was the way he had thought of it at the time -- and in fact, it was merely a crushing, grinding burden --- that was all! It came to$252,000 a year, none of it deductible, because it was a personal loan, not a mortgage. (The cooperative boards in Good Park Avenue Buildings like his didn't allow you to take out a mortgage on your apartment.) So, considering the taxes, it required $420,000 in income to pay the$252,000. Of the $560,000 remaining of his income last year,$44,400 was required for the apartment's monthly maintenance fees; $116,000 for the house on Old Drover's Mooring Lane in Southampton ($84,000 for mortgage payment and interest, $18,000 for heat, utilities, insurance, and repairs,$6,000 for lawn and hedge cutting, $8,000 for taxes). Entertaining at home and in restaurants had come to$37,000. This was a modest sum compared to what other people spent; for example, Campbell's birthday party in Southampton had had only one carnival ride (plus, of course, the obligatory ponies and the magician) and had cost less than \$4,000.